NEW YORK — During a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Sunday, Barack Obama told those gathered that religious rights have limits when it comes to homosexuality.
“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” he said. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”
Billed as a homosexual gala, Obama had been introduced by Jim Obergefell at the event—the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
“We live in an America where a growing share of older generations recognize that love is love, and younger generations don’t even know what all the fuss was about,” he said. “Thanks to the unbending sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our founding ideals … we now live in America where our marriages are equal as well.”
During his speech, Obama also mocked the Republican party and several of its presidential candidates.
“Even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes,” he stated. “That’s not how we move America forward.”
“One of their leading candidates argued that going to prison turns you gay,” Obama said, referring to Ben Carson.
“Another candidate boasts that he introduced an amendment to end nationwide marriage equality, which isn’t even an accomplishment at all,” he continued, referring to Ted Cruz, before moving on to Mike Huckabee. “A third says Americans should just disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling entirely. I’m sure he loves the Constitution—except for Article III. And maybe the Equal Protection Amendment. And the 14th Amendment, generally.”
The president vowed to continue to push for progress for the homosexual agenda, as well as other issues.
“What makes America special is, is that though sometimes we zig and zag, eventually hope wins out,” he said. “But it only wins out because folks like you put your shoulder behind the wheel and push it in that direction.”
While Obama has regularly attended events in support of homosexuality, as previously reported, some former homosexuals who have been set free by the power of Christ have asked the president to also hear their stories.
“For years, the president of the United States has sat down with those in the LGBTQ community but has failed to hear the stories of those of us who have successfully left the homosexual lifestyle,” wrote Janet Boynes in May. “As someone who spent 14 years in the homosexual lifestyle and then experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ, I know it is possible to be set free. For 17 years, I have been living proof.”
She petitioned Obama to meet with people just like her and listen to their testimonies.
“Countless people who are participating in the homosexual lifestyle have visited with you at the White House, and you have supported them on numerous occasions,” Boynes stated. “What about those of us whose compelling stories you have chosen to ignore? We also have voices; and when you were first elected, you promised to listen to us. That has not happened yet.”
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(Morning Star News) – The Islamic State (IS) has taken responsibility for gunning down the Italian program manager of a Christian-backed aid group on Monday (Sept. 28) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
An online statement claiming to be from the Islamic extremist IS said a “security detachment” from the terrorist organization had followed Cesare Tavella of the Netherlands-based Inter Church Coordinating Committee (ICCO) before shooting him with “silenced weapons.” Reuters reported that police were not aware of the claim and had not confirmed it.
If true, it would be the Islamic State’s first attack in Bangladesh, where Islamic extremists have vied to turn the South Asian country into a state ruled by sharia (Islamic law).
Tavella was reportedly on his evening jog when gunmen on a motorcycle caught up with him and shot him. A rural development worker mostly in Asia for 20 years, he had reportedly arrived in Bangladesh in May to head up ICCO’s food and economic development programs, according to a statement from ICCO.
“We are deeply saddened by the shocking news of the death of our dear colleague Cesare Tavella,” the statement read. “Cesare was a hard-working professional, committed to help the people of Bangladesh.”
The assailants did not steal any of Tavella’s belongings, and police believe the attack was “pre-planned.”
In the Islamic State’s statement, it suggested more attacks would be coming and asserted that citizens of a “crusader coalition” were not safe.
Australian, British and U.S. embassies issued warnings to their citizens and personnel. Bangladesh authorities in July arrested the head of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, which had claimed responsibility for killing Bangladeshi bloggers critical of Islamic extremism. Last month a blogger critical of Islam and other religions reportedly became the fourth social media activist to be killed in Bangladesh this year.
Sunni Muslims constitute 90 percent of Bangladesh’s population, according to the 2011 census, with Hindu making up 9.5 percent of the total population, which the U.S. government estimates at 163.7 million people. The remainder of the population is mostly Roman Catholic and Theravada-Hinayana Buddhist. There are also small numbers of Shia Muslims, Bahais, animists, and Ahmadiyya Muslims.
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Pop icon Justin Bieber, known outside of his music for his wild lifestyle and run-ins with the law, as well as his relationship with NYC Hillsong ‘Pastor’ Carl Lentz, told Complex Magazine this month that Christians are often “overly churchy and religious,” and that he wants to just “live like Jesus.”
“At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith,” he said.
Bieber stated that he believes some churches and Christians turn people away by being “overly pushy.”
“I think that with Christians, they’ve left such a bad taste in people’s mouths. Just like, overly pushy with the subject, overly churchy and religious,” he opined. “There’s a lot of really weird stuff going on at churches. You ever flicked on a channel and a late-night church show is on? Sometimes it’s like, ‘You better do this or you gon’ die and you gon’ burn in hell!’ And you’re like, I don’t want anything to do with this.”
Bieber outlined, however, that he desires to speak more about his faith out of his belief that everyone should be able to share their point of view.
“I personally love Jesus and that was my salvation. I want to share what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and I think it shouldn’t be ostracized,” he said. “I think that everybody should get their chance to share what they’re doing or where their journey is headed, whether they’re straight or gay or what they believe in. We’re in a place now in 2015 where people have gotta be open-minded.”
“I think that people, as soon as they start hearing me saying I’m a Christian, they’re like, ‘Whoa Justin, back up, take a step back.’ Also, I do not want to shove this down anyone’s throat. I just wanna honestly live like Jesus,” Bieber continued. “He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, he died for our sins.”
Using profanity, the pop star compared his relationship with God to that of a girlfriend.
“If I have an awesome, bomb girlfriend, I’m gonna wanna show her off and go around and tell people my girl is the [expletive]. I’m not gonna cheat on her because she’s the best,” he stated. “It’s like with God: The whole thing with religion is you present yourself holy and bring your offerings so that God can bless you, when the whole point of the relationship [should be], ‘No, I’m gonna do this because He loves me.’”
Bieber opposes abortion, but says he is uncertain about exceptions. He believes that homosexuality is “everyone’s own decision” and in regard to abstinence once said, “I don’t think you should have sex with anyone unless you love them.” He has made headlines over the past few years regarding his friendship with Hillsong New York’s Carl Lentz, who is stated to have baptized Bieber last year after he came under fire for racist comments.
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NEW YORK — In an interview with CNN on Sunday, the president of Iran stated that his country might free Americans imprisoned in the nation—which includes a pastor from Idaho—if the United States first releases Iranian prisoners.
“If the Americans take the appropriate steps and set [19 Iranians in the United States who are imprisoned] free, certainly the right environment will be open and the right circumstances will be created for us to do everything within our power and our purview to bring about the swiftest freedom for the Americans held in Iran as well,” he told reporter Christiane Amanpour during his visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
“If the Americans take the appropriate actions vis-a-vis Iranian citizens who are being imprisoned here, then the right atmosphere and environment will be created for reciprocal action perhaps,” Rouhani said.
He asserted that the U.S. no longer has a reason to hold Iranians captive for violating sanctions that have now been lifted under the nuclear agreement.
“Once these sanctions have been lifted, why keep those folks in American prisons?” Rouhani stated. “So they must be freed.”
But Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held as a prisoner in Iran for three years, said it shouldn’t take a prisoner swap for her husband to be freed.
“My husband is not collateral. He is a father and a man who broke no law. Yet Iran is treating him like a pawn in a game of chess,” she said in a statement. “President Rouhani’s demand that America release 19 criminals in exchange for his consideration of releasing individuals like my husband, imprisoned solely for his faith, demonstrates that the Iran of today is no different than the Iran who took Americans hostage during the Iranian revolution.”
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Iranian Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and two children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county. In 2012, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents—and was about to return to the states—when he was taken into custody.
Abedini was later charged with threatening the national security of Iran, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity. He was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, but was transferred to to Rajai Shahr Prison in 2013, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. He has experienced numerous beatings behind bars ever since.
Over 900 cities worldwide held prayer gatherings on Saturday for Abedini—the day marking three years that he has spent behind bars—and over a million have signed a petition calling for his swift release.
“I’m not going to discuss what we might or might not do,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Fox News when asked if a prisoner swap is possible. “I hope over the next course of days and weeks … I hope our citizens will come home.”